Innocent Traitor; Alison Weir

It’s much better if you love history. Even if you don’t, the format of the book should compensate for the lack of interest in historical books. This is not historical fiction, though the writer (Alison Weir) has taken the liberty of imagination at certain points, and to good effect.


The places where the text adds imaginative adornments are described at the end of the book, so, if you are persnickety about poetic license, you wouldn’t be too upset.

Personally, interest in the life of Lady Jane Grey was kindled because of a painting that hangs in the National Gallery in London The Execution of Jane Grey, by Paul Delarouche. While I consider myself to be fairly illiterate in terms of art appreciation, this particular masterpiece, has somehow always attracted me to it, sent many a question to my head and made my heart go in a knot. It was indeed fortuitous that my artist friend picks up the book and asks how come I missed noticing this book. I am happy, however, that she did notice the book and I did pick it.

The book is written in the first person, which helps change, the perspective of looking at history. You look at the events from the point of view of the character, in the event, at that time. It adds certain emotion and ‘personality’ to the event(s) and allows history to become warmer than a chronological the presentation of cold facts. And a brave attempt, may I add, for Alison says:

[…] I have tried to penetrate the minds of my characters, which is something that serious historians attempt only at their peril.

There are, I know, a few fussy writers who insist on the facts and the gaps in availability of historical data to be left as empty and dark as a question mark. However, this book, does offer a glow in that abyss. John Man, for example, speculates fairly well when he has to deal with gaps in history. His fillers, however, are more based on reason and logic. He does wonderful justice too – makes for interesting reading. Yet, it is all in the third person.

To read something written by the character, is a new-found pleasure for me.

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